stone retaining wall?

taraz579(6)March 21, 2010

Hi, I wasn't sure where to post this, my name is Tara & I'm new here.

My fiancee & I want to plant a rather decent size veggie garden this year (approximately 10'X30') but the catch is it's on a hill. Probably about a 12 foot drop, within about 18' of length, so not too awful steep. That said, we are going to (attempt, rather) level off most of this incline (the majority of our one side yard) and have soil/fertilizer and what-not delivered. However, we need something for support.

Thus, we've been browsing stones for a retaining wall at the bottom. Does anybody have any experience with such a set-up? My father seems to think such a wall will need support inside the single layer of bricks/stones that also form the outer/decorative edge of the wall. Any thoughts on this? (I trust both my fiancee & my father...they are both very smart and constantly exceed my expectations with projects, etc)

My father also made the suggestion of using railroad ties instead. I would like to use these, IF they will hold up & last. I just like the more country/simple look of wood, versus stone, as we will have a stone patio only 15 feet away. Does anybody have any experience with RR tie walls, with such an incline & pressure behind it?

Any other ideas that I haven't considered?

thanks a bunch & have a great day!


happy gardening :)

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Let's start with the easy question- how tall a wall are you trying to construct? Less than two feet is going to be a lot easier than greater than two feet.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 2:01PM
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approximately 7-8 feet at the bottom, the top will be open, as it's the top of the slope. one side is also sloping out, and the other side will start around 5-6 ft and taper down. hope that helps. :)

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 3:00PM
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It might be a waste of typing, but a wall over 4' requires (by state law in most states) a stamped plan designed by a structural engineer.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 5:22PM
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karinl(BC Z8)

So the important question might be... what is under your wall? In other words, what does the property slope down to - what are the stakes if it fails? Someone's house? Playset? Though no matter what.who might get hit by a rolling rock or a wall of mud, and no matter what the regs are, at that height I think I'd want to tick off "plan approved by structural engineer" on my to-do list if I were you.

That said, there is a right way and a wrong way to build both a wood wall and a stone wall. As I said on another thread recently, you are far better off to find instructions in a book where the author has put considerable thought into explaining it correctly and thoroughly than to work with what some self-appointed gurus (like me :-)) on the internet think to tell you.

In the case of stones, definitely at that height of wall, back/infill can play a role. In the case of wood, your situation is why tie-backs were invented. Given that you are planning on growing food to eat, if you want to use wood I would use something other than railroad ties - creosote being toxic and all. Wood, however, requires periodic replacement - maybe every 15-20 years or so.

Both design AND construction method matter here. But there is no reason why amateurs cannot design such a thing pending expert approval. Take a gander at a concurrent thread around here somewhere by the poster with a series of two walls in her front yard (linked below, actually). A very valid idea, to make a series of smaller walls rather than one big one.

And I hope I'm not the only one who cannot make head or tail of what "the top will be open" means!


Here is a link that might be useful: two walls

    Bookmark   March 21, 2010 at 6:59PM
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